Once upon a time…
Before things were lost or forgotten or destroyed, there were thousands of worlds. People tend to not remember that. Thousands of worlds forged by people who would live their lives there forever, generation after generation.
Some stories were similar to each other, minor variations on a theme; others were wildly different depending on the conditions of their world. That’s important. And if people could travel between worlds, they talked about. They shared.
Then came the Burning.
An empire stole a book that promised freedom to a small, but heart-strong tribe and, in stealing that freedom, they turned it into chains to try and bind a world.
In some cases, like the tales of the Norsemen, they were able to take out anything offensive to their empire. Odin and his sacrifices became a metaphor for Christ. Ragnarok became Revelations. And after Ragnarok? Well, that was Jesus’ salvation spreading across the land.
Others they could not control so they destroyed it, root and all. The druids tortured and laid out for the crows to eat. The languages of the people wrecked.
Old stories reduced to fairy tales, at best. The power of women denied. For those stories, we are left with imagination and dreams, with hints of what came before. Take whatever emerges with a wary eye.
It’s been a long time since the tales of two worlds have been properly allowed to bloom.
This is a telling. It’s only a telling.
You decide what power it has in your heart.
There was a time before time, where nothing moved, where all was ocean and all was night.
When time emerged, she was fierce and frothing. She was the night’s demon. The Night Mare. The Morrigan and her presence shook the emptiness of creation.
Forever, the world was this way, unformed and undone but it would not endure this way. The Morrigan split the ocean in two, one above and one below, and in that vast and yawning gap, she formed the first land from her foam.
From the leftover flecks of foam came the first births, the Sea Mares or the demons of the ocean below. The Fomor. The Morrigan was not satisfied with that, though and from her essence, she grew three daughters: Eire, Alba and Fodla. Her daughters brought to the land many women and crafted three men as their consorts.
They’re probably best known by their attributes: oak, ash, and thorn. Or strong and constant, long and thin, and small but persistent.
Yes, they shared these assessments with all the women they brought with them.
The men felt a little performance pressure after that.
Let’s be clear here. The goddesses did not need the men for the land; that was a gift from their mother. They didn’t need the men for their pleasure. That’s why they had a boatload of other women with them. They had all they needed to start a culture, but needed men as a catalyst to jumpstart the future.
Two of the men died under the strain; the last took off to become a salmon.
Heartbroken, the women abandoned the land and returned to the sea. The Fomor jealously washed over the land and marked it as their own. They could not claim it, though. It wasn’t theirs to take.
The goddesses, the daughters of the Morrigan, would not be forgotten. Their names, to honor them, would be used when the Tuatha de Danaan returned.
The salmon would not be forgotten. He would return to help the people, until he was eaten by Fionn mac Cumhaill many millennia later.
Fodla’s son, the child of ‘Thorn’ and the goddess, returned with his father’s idea of furrowing the ground.
He was aided by Alba’s husband, who had taken on the form of the salmon of wisdom. The Fomor, angry at an attempt to change ‘their’ land, cursed the people with a plague. None are known to have survived.
The goddesses were not done with the land.
Their Mother was fickle and powerful. How could the land be anything less that her?
The descendants of the first ones were returning.
Nemed and Macha, priest and priestess of Eire, come with their adopted children and descendants.
Some chronicler, from a much later age, tries to make them husband and wife, not understanding that her name is the same as his mother’s, the goddess Eire, and that his name means holy, which means he didn’t identify with normal social roles.
This becomes later very relevant when his spiritual heir travels to the north with a handpicked ship of all-men. That shows clearly where Nemed’s passions lie.
Macha dies ritually and willingly so that the land recognizes her. This forces the hand of the Fomor and they become an open threat, instead of hidden manipulators, that Nemed’s children can fight.
The first struggle goes well and, for the first time, the people of the Morrigan begin to establish a presence on the land.
Unfortunately, the tide turns against them and the Fomor take control, demanding two thirds of whatever Nemed’s people produce, including their children.
The inevitable rebellion forces the Fomor back into the sea, to their original place but from there, like in the beginning, they summon the flood and kill Nemed’s people.
They have to flee, some to the south, some to the east.
One group of men escape, led by Nemed’s assigned heir, go north.
It’s then that they cross into another world.